We know our parents sacrificed for us. That’s what history is… people giving stuff up for future generations, whether it’s crossing lonely oceans or fighting in wars or, as it was in the old days, enduring painful, suffocating relationships and stultifying gender roles.
The writer Susan Straight writes in her book In the Country of Women: A Memoir that she was once told by her mother, “When you get married, you give away fifty percent of your life.” Back then, this was truer than it needed to be, in some cases even an underestimation. “What about the other half?” a young Susan asked hopefully. “When you have a baby, you give away the other half,” her mother replied matter-of-factly.
Look, we should count ourselves lucky that society has progressed at least a little bit. We should acknowledge that our parents and their parents had to compromise and go without things that we take for granted today. We should also be empowered and confident enough to say: Not me.
Yes, marriage and relationships are hard. Yes, our kids have forced us to make changes. There are things we can’t or won’t do anymore. But does that mean we have to lose ourselves, lose all our freedoms? Absolutely not.
We can transcend the bitter math. By looking for the double opportunities, as we’ve talked about. By working on ourselves and our relationships. By asking for help. By refusing to give up on dreams, even as we get older. By understanding that to quit on ourselves is to quit on our kids—it’s teaching them a terrible lesson.
We’re not giving away anything. We’re adding things—and by including our kids, we are multiplying the impact.
Ryan Holiday’s newest book, The Boy Who Would Be King, is out this week. This beautifully illustrated book is perfect for anyone who wants their children to learn about living a virtuous life. Get your copy this week for a unique audiobook with several different narrators, bonus material, and more (and it’s now available on Audible too!). Signed copies are available as well. Get your copy here.